It’s the battle of the “Borussias” as current Bundesliga leaders Dortmund face off against Mönchengladbach from the Westfalenstadion.
The pessimism that normally surrounds many Dortmund supporters (myself included) has officially got to go on hiatus. This club is simply far too successful at the moment to say anything negative. Lets break down match day six as The Black and Yellows bring their 40 match Bundesliga home unbeaten streak into the weekend against ‘Gladbach.
Why have Dortmund been so fantastic these past five weeks? For one, this side leads the Bundesliga in possession (64.3%), shots per match (19.4), are second in shots on target per match (6.4), as well as second in pass success percentage (84.8%). In other words, BVB have been absolutely dominant.
That is only the offence. Even more impressive might be the zero goals conceded so far by the Dortmund defence. BVB are allowing a league-best seven shots per match by their opponents. Additionally, the ball is only spending 21% of the match in Dortmund’s defensive third. When you combine defensive efficiency with a high-powered offence capable of scoring multiple goals every match, it is no surprise to see that side at the top of German football.
One counter-argument to Dortmund’s success is that they have not played the Bundesliga’s elite. They have faced both Europa League qualifiers from last season (FC Köln and Hertha Berlin) and have beaten them by a combined score of 7:0. Hamburg, who were defeated 0:3 this past “Englische Woche” by BVB, had a great start to this season but have been severely hampered by injuries to key players. Wolfsburg, who were defeated by Dortmund at the Volkswagen Arena on match day one, came back from a two goal deficit against Bayern München at the Allianz Arena to secure a 2:2 draw. While Dortmund may not have faced Germany’s elite to this point, they certainly have not played sides who lack any and all quality.
Borussia Mönchengladbach enter this match with a squad that is fully capable of competing with BVB. The question is: Why won’t they? It is mostly due to manager Dieter Hecking. As was the case during his tenure with VfL Wolfsburg, so too it is at ‘Gladbach, there persists the infamous “Hecking effect.” When Hecking first becomes manager of a club they perform very well for a limited period of time. After a while, however, his tactics become stale, making his squads predictable. The longer he stays at a club the worse the results get as other managers adjust to his teams’ style of play.
The Foals are a solid squad offensively, able to hold their own in possession and are one of the top sides in the Bundesliga in passing efficiency. They still lack the consistency in defence, allowing their opponents to take far too many shots. Something ‘Gladbach may be able to exploit is Peter Bosz’s love of playing with an extremely high line. This makes BVB vulnerable to counter-attacks, which ‘Gladbach certainly have the personnel to execute successfully. Lars Stindl and Raffael are the best forward-duo BVB will have faced so far this season in league play. Bosz of course knows this and will instruct his players to be aware of a ‘Gladbach counter should BVB lose possession in a dangerous area of the pitch.
Dortmund will attempt to again dominate possession, which leads to more shots, which theoretically leads to more goals. Do not expect Mönchengladbach to attempt to compete with Dortmund here. Instead, The Foals will likely let BVB come at them and much like Hamburg, focus on frustrating them with aggressive pressing in midfield. Hamburg had great success with this strategy on more than one occasion and were very close to scoring the first goal against The Black and Yellows in the Bundesliga this season.
This match will be close for a good portion of time. Perhaps even long enough to make some Black and Yellow supporters a bit uneasy. BVB will open the scoring in the first half. Look for The Foals to equalize at some point off of a quick-strike counter-attack. After conceding, Dortmund will regroup and calmly reclaim the lead as ‘Gladbach’s defence will again be their downfall, unable to stop the relentless BVB offensive assault as the match draws to its conclusion. For good measure, Dortmund will add another goal in stoppage time.
PREDICTION: Borussia Dortmund 3:1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
BVB: Bürki – Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Zagadou – Castro, Sahin, M. Götze – Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Philipp
Manager: Peter Bosz
BMG: Sommer – Elvedi, Ginter, Vestergaard, Wendt – Kramer, Zakaria – Herrmann, Hazard – Stindl, Raffael
Manager: Dieter Hecking